An urban watershed in northern New Jersey was studied to determine the presence of four classes of antibiotic compounds (macrolides, fluoroquinolones, sulfonamides, and tetracyclines) and six degradates in the water column and bottom sediments upstream and downstream from the discharges of two wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) and a drinking-water intake (DWI). Many antibiotic compounds in the four classes not removed by conventional WWTPs enter receiving waters and partition to stream sediments. Samples were collected at nine sampling locations on 2 days in September 2008. Two of the nine sampling locations were background sites upstream from two WWTP discharges on Hohokus Brook. Another background site was located upstream from a DWI on the Saddle River above the confluence with Hohokus Brook. Because there is a weir downstream of the confluence of Hohokus Brook and Saddle River, the DWI receives water from Hohokus Brook at low stream flows. Eight antibiotic compounds (azithromycin (maximum concentration 0.24 μg/L), ciprofloxacin (0.08 μg/L), enrofloxacin (0.015 μg/L), erythromycin (0.024 μg/L), ofloxacin (0.92 μg/L), sulfamethazine (0.018 μg/L), sulfamethoxazole (0.25 μg/L), and trimethoprim (0.14 μg/L)) and a degradate (erythromycin-H2O (0.84 μg/L)) were detected in the water samples from the sites downstream from the WWTP discharges. The concentrations of six of the eight detected compounds and the detected degradate compound decreased with increasing distance downstream from the WWTP discharges. Azithromycin, ciprofloxacin, ofloxacin, and trimethoprim were detected in stream-bottom sediments. The concentrations of three of the four compounds detected in sediments were highest at a sampling site located downstream from the WWTP discharges. Trimethoprim was detected in the sediments from a background site. Pseudo-partition coefficients normalized for streambed sediment organic carbon concentration were calculated for azithromycin, ciprofloxacin, and ofloxacin. Generally, there was good agreement between the decreasing order of the pseudo-partition coefficients in this study and the order reported in the literature.
Additional publication details
Occurence of antibiotic compounds found in the water column and bottom sediments from a stream receiving two waste water treatment plant effluents in northern New Jersey, 2008